Engraved proof of advertisement for silversmith Thomas Fletcher
This engraved proof of advertisement for silversmith Thomas Fletcher depicts the silver urn produced by Fletcher and his partner Sidney Gardiner as a gift to Captain Isaac Hull from the merchants of Philadelphia. The ceremonial silver urn honored USS Constitution‘s defeat of HMS Guerriere under Hull’s command. The large urn is decorated with various classical motifs, including an engraved scene of the battle between Constitution and Guerriere that took place on August 19, 1812.
Though gratitude and patriotism were likely the primary motives of the 169 Philadelphia merchants who contributed to the cost of the urn, they may have also sought to enhance their own reputations by association. Newspapers throughout the country proclaimed their generosity and, as this advertisement shows, Fletcher was willing to directly promote his involvement in producing the $3,000 commission.
The creation of this urn transformed the firm of Fletcher & Gardiner into America’s premier makers of presentation silver and they would later produce a set of silver tableware pieces as a presentation to USS Constitution’s second War of 1812 captain, William Bainbridge, following his defeat of HMS Java in 1812.